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Is The U.S. No Longer The Choice For Freedom? 1456

Posted by Cliff
from the how-much-wee-weeing-on-the-constitution-will-we-stand-for dept.
Kasreyn asks: "I'm personally getting worried (OK, paranoid) due to all this stuff I'm seeing on Slashdot. It seems like corporations have no desire other than to strip us of what few remaining freedoms we have, and the government is doing nothing to check their power scramble. What I'm wondering is, just how bad IS it? Is the United States still the best choice of a place to live for safety, freedom, and quality of life? I used to be all patriotic and really I believed that...now I'm not so sure."

"I've been keeping my eye on other nations as places to live, and tallying whether they are cutting down on their citizens' freedoms, as well as whether they seem likely to be in any wars in the next 50 years... I'm personally getting tired of living in a nation where apparently no one in the capital city has read its constitution, or gives a damn. Where everyone elected to high political office breaks the oath they all take, to uphold and protect that same constitution.

I'd love to hear what my fellow Slashdotters have to say on the subject. If not the U.S., then where should I go? Please, no national biases, give me some actual info about places worth living. I'd like to get some ideas on this NOW though, so that if I decide to leave I can get out before doing so becomes a problem. (Did I mention I'm probably too paranoid about this?)"

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Is The US No Longer The Choice For Freedom?

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  • by karld (141289) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:47AM (#533639)
    to buy your own politician. It's really cheap in Latin America, expensive in the US/Europe.
  • I'm personally getting worried (OK, paranoid) due to all this stuff I'm seeing on Slashdot

    Everyone knows you shouldn't believe everything you read on Slashdot. ;)
  • by Tassleman (66753) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:49AM (#533643) Homepage
    and it's probably going to continue getting worse until more people get involved in the political process. This last election was the first time I have ever endeavoured to get involved, and with the way it turned out, it really let me down and made me lose even more faith in the system.

    That, and the fact that anyone who would make good candidate material has too many skeletons in the closet that they are afraid of the media uncovering. I know that if when I was older I decided that I had what it takes to hold office I would never run because I have done some bad things in my time that I would NEVER want exposed to the world.
  • by Teethgrinder (2842) <sd@oos.org> on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:49AM (#533644) Homepage
    This is not meant inflammatory but I'm really irritated by this statement: Is the United States still the best choice of a place to live for safety, freedom, and quality of life?

    Do you really mean that? What led you to believe that this ever was the case?
    I really have trouble grasping this US sense of patriotism.

    Seriously, I'm just curious...
  • by Jerf (17166) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:50AM (#533645) Journal
    I would recommend pursuing a program of aggresive space colonization and then trying to live there. This suggestion is probably nearly infeasible, but it is not sarcastic. Historically speaking, governments rarely get less repressive over time, and now, the world is only a limited number of steps away from UN domination in this area, which has been strongly pro-business and anti-person.

    That said, if there is a country that would be able to pull it off with little or no bloodshed, it's the US. More realistically then the previous suggestion, stay here and keep fighting the good fight. With the American system, it is possible to win, just not easy. (It's never easy under any system.)

  • Half the countries in the world would have started shooting each other had this election fisaco we just went thru occured there. We didn't.

    We developed the Internet - and one of the best federalist governments ever developed. We still have freedom - just some mega Intellectual property issues that will be ironed out one way or the other.

    - I wouldn't leave for the world,

  • by gwyrdd benyw (233417) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:51AM (#533649) Journal
    Canada's consistently been rated the best country in the world to live in [english-vancouver.com], based on quality of life, health, citizen involvement, etc. In fact, Vancouver, my city (which has a pretty good high-tech scene to boot), is the #2 city, after Geneva.

    If I left Vancouver, it is highly unlikely I'd move to the US. I'd probably make a break for Copenhagen, London, or Hamburg instead.. those Europeans are much more enlightened in the ways of what Truly Matters in Life than us North Americans.

  • by TDScott (260197) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:52AM (#533651)
    The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill (aptly acronymed RIP) basically allows the UK government to snoop on any Internet traffic at the ISP level, with a suitable warrant from a senior police officer.

    Yes, there are ways around it (PGP, create your own mailserver, sign up with overseas ISP or ZeroKnowledge), but the average Internet user will now be leaving a trail behind them that can be used in evidence against them.

    Oh, and by the way - this law isn't being debated. It's been passed.

    [This post may contain factual errors. Please feel free to correct them.]
  • by maddboyy (32850) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:52AM (#533652) Homepage
    Has Microsoft taken away your right to form a militia? Has Pepsi told you what religion to practice? Has Exxon tried to force you to harbor soldiers against your will? Which basic rights have the corporations take away from you? Yes, companies are suing individuals left and right over so-called intellectual property rights. However, these suits have yet to be challenged in the Supreme Court and set as precedent. To answer your question, yes, there are possible countries that are more free than the US. However, I believe you'll be hard pressed to find one. Exactly what rights are looking for?
  • by 11223 (201561) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:52AM (#533653)
    safety, freedom, and quality of life

    Saftey - is the right not to be harmed for speaking your mind.

    Freedom - is the ability to be heard by people if you speak.

    Quality of life - is what you make of it, if the first two don't address your concerns.

    However, it's the "freedom" issue that bothers me. In any sort of a media state (like the US, but not only the US) opposing viewpoints get no recognition. If you have something different to say, you're told to go elsewhere, to find the minority who agree with you. In ages past, philosophers, thinkers, novelists, and writers all had the ability to have their works disseminated over a wide base to people who didn't already agree with the ideas. That's no longer the case when the media controls the distribution.

    What this means is that every media state ends up a bit like Brave New World, i.e. banishing those who speak and think independently. Thus, there is no freedom. BNW was not the picture of a free society, despite the option of exile.

    So, where's the freedom? There is none. Saftey? In the US, sure, you can get physical saftey. It's irrelevant without freedom.

    And, like I said, if the first two aren't enough to you, then quality of life is what you make of it.

  • How can a corporation infringe on your rights unless the government gives them that right?

    I see this anti-corporate stuff on slashdot all the time and I simply don't get it. Unless the _government_ explicitly gives someone the ability to infringe on your rights, any corporation can only act just like any other individual.

    Now, if you believe in positive rights (such as the right to be fed or the right to healthcare) then you are part of the problem with freedom in the US.
  • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:52AM (#533656)
    The United States (although somewhat corrupt at times) is the only place that I can actually say is stable, inexpensive, and mostly free.

    I complain about the government and the assholes who tend to be in office, but for the most part it really hasn't affected me all that much yet. I would rather live here than Kosovo or Russia, etc. At least here I don't have to worry about political struggles that will completely change my way of life or even kill me.

    To address your point of biases... Most people are going to tell you to live where they do b/c that is where they are comfortable living...

    Just my worthless .02
  • by typical geek (261980) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:52AM (#533657) Homepage
    For instance, if you want to own a gun, it's hard to beat the US.

    If you wish to practice Scientology, stay away from Germany.

    I hear Canada has strange porn laws, you can probably find harder porn in the US (I'm talking dead tree porn here).

    If you're a woman (I know, only about 5% of Slashdot) there are a lot of countries that are less enlightened about women's rights than the US.

    If you will obviously stick out as a foreigner, there are other countries you may want to stay away from.

    If you desire sexual freedom, stay away from highly religious countries, like Ireland, which bans abortion and may have birth control restrictions.

    Sorry this isn't more help, but you've asked a very broad question.
  • I like the fact that you seem to be having something of an epiphany about political freedoms in the supposedly 'free' west, but COME ON - how can the US claim to be a democracy with an entrenched two-party system that now seems to be sliding alramingly towards oligarchy? ( hillary, george jr., etc ). I'm canadian, and I don't think we're all that much better off - we have more political parties, but the elected members of those political parties aren't allowed to vote their own conscience - they have to toe party line.

    I think too often we confuse political freedom with personal freedom. In N. America, we enjoy IMMENSE amounts of personal freedoms ( ie 'free as in beer' ) but as far as political freedom goes, it's really quite debatable.

    What do you think?
  • Everyone here in the US seems to have this mentality of "I am OWED such and such, and if I can't get it on my own the the government should give it to me......" Not to mention the congress being in big corporations pockets. Until people wake up and realize government should only be there to ensure rights, and allow citizens to fail, or suffer the consequences of their own choices (good or bad) the country will not improve.
  • by levik (52444) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:53AM (#533665) Homepage
    I believe that while (as is obvious to any Slashdot reader) USA is far from a perfect place to live as far as your freedom is concerned, it is still the best choice out there.

    The reason is that the trend toward the dominaiton commercial interest in almost every field is a global one, and as such, no technologically advanced country is safe. If a country were to chose to push for individual freedom over the interest of large corporations, it might well find itself excluded from the technological progress that these corporations bring. As such many nations might be "scared" into giving away the pie.

    The U.S. is the one country that has little to fear in this respect. For a company with a global vision, excluding the American marketplace is not an option, and therefore America is in a better position to protect the interests of its citizens.

    So while it might happen that some concessions to the corporate world are made, i think that US has the best chance of any country in this battle, should they chose to undertake it.

  • I've said it before and I'll say it again, all coders should get out of the states for the reason of IP laws. I have previously promoted Europe (and hey why not my little isle of Ireland) but honestly I feel that it does not matter overly where as long as it is outside of the direct control US legal system.

    I have to say though that all countries (IMHO) have taken steps which are abhorent to the rights of individuals, often through backdoors. Examples include Ireland's removals of many human rights in the case of the "War on Drugs", freedom of speech and right to property and the UKs RIP act to protect against "child pornography et al" which makes carnivore look benign (we all now they snoop but at least they aren't saying it's illegal to stop them).

    I don't think (bar coders who are subjecting themselves to stupid legal requirements) people should emigrate.....just be vocal and do what you can (e.g. vote) to stop these errosions. If you think the whole population agrees with the politicians run....if the population disagrees help get them vocal.

  • Which freedoms are you worried about?
    I know this: you are free to not enter into contracts with those big bad corporations!
  • After all, they have the Internet Privacy Act, rank higher in Amnesty International annual reports, have multi-party elections, and are way more advanced on rights than we are.

    Sadly, they have a lousy exchange rate.

  • by Lover's Arrival, The (267435) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:55AM (#533673) Homepage
    Hi. I'm from Scotland, but I chose to come to America to live, which is the country you are planning to leave. If you have decided to base your decision to leave this country on what is reported on /., then I would say that that is a little foolhardy of you, wouldn't you agree? Slashdot, like all news vendors, is a biased site, and the only type of news for sites like this is bad news. So things may appear biased from that regard.

    Also, I can't see how things would be better in other countries. Things always seem rosy from far away, but it doesn't seem like that when you get there! For example, people always talk of Holland and the EU as being free places to live these days, while ignoring the huge democratic deficit at the heart of the EU that Holland and other European countries have to confirm to.

    The simple fact is that most Countries around the world have their own problems regarding freedom, and I don't see how the USA is uniquely better or worse in any area.

    Speaking for myself, the things I like about America are its Constitution which safeguards certains rights. But as a European, and a Scot at that, I am a wee bit uncomfortable at the lack of a National Health Service that is government funded and the Gun laws make me nervous too, but that is only to be expected.

    There are always trades and balances! :o)

  • alright... dude...

    its a commonly known fact, that when you over-user certain chemicals, such as slashdot, that sometimes paranoia results...

    I mean the fact that you're hallucinating whilst on slashdot should be a sign that you need to get OFF the slashdot.... Geez you even said it yourself that you are getting paranoid to "stuff your seeing ON SLASHDOT"....

    what i suggest you do, is to lay off the slashdot... it can be highly addicting, and cause hallucinations, specifically, naked, petrified Natalie Portman, links to informative articles [goatse.cx], visions of hot gritz and bouilliabase...

    My advice to you, is to lay off the slashdot for a while and reality will start piecing itself back together...


    tagline

  • I mean, corporations are pretty bad and all. What I *would* worry about, however, is the absolute ignorance of the populace. How many people are aware of the travesty that has been made of separation of powers? 10th amendment, anyone? How about the separation clause of the 1st amendment? It says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...." Seems kind of clear to me: Congress can't make laws about religion or prohibit religious practice. And yet, they constantly impair religious practice and make numerous laws concerning religion! Our tax system is out of whack, our legal system is out of control, and I just keep going on and on but I don't have time. We're in bad shape, folks.
  • Greetings.

    The posting population of Slashdot shuns control, regardless of the source (Government or Corporation). Posting opinions is one form of anti-control. Another is the lively discussions about the apparent constant erosion of U.S. civil rights.

    Although it seems that Things (tm) are getting worse in the good old USA, I suggest you take a step back (from Slashdot) and read some other opinions. Do they confirm or contradict the sentiment here?

    . . .

    The most interesting part of the debate is the fact that Corporations seem to want to us to exchange our liberties for capitalism. I am not sure why there is a dichotomy between liberty and capitalism. Further, it is laughable that Corporations seek to impose liberty limitations on the purchasing Americans at the expense of their own personal liberties.

    People like to complain about how their privacy has been invaded, yet continue to work for and purchase from the Corporations that try to erode their libery. Maybe it's me and my arrogant attitude, but the majority of folks that I know do not care that their liberties probably are eroding. They only seem to care about how much money they can make while doing as little work as possible. Are these people legitimately stupid? or just not clued in?

    "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life."

  • Just curious,have you lived in any other countries? I've been stationed overseas twice,plus one deployment,and I still look forward to coming home. The US may not be perfect,but overall I still think we have the best deal going.

    Here's a suggestion:instead of moving out and giving up,why not try to improve things? Do you vote? Have you encouraged other people to? Instead of jumping ship,how about becoming more politically active and try to inact some positive changes. The whole reason our rights are slipping away is because of apathy/inaction on the part of the people.

  • It seems like corporations have no desire other than to strip us of what few remaining freedoms we have, and the government is doing nothing to check their power scramble.

    What right does the government have to infringe on the rights of private corporations? You want the government to get bigger and bigger, more and more restrictive of rights, and have the ability to direct all business.

    This means you want less freedom, not more. You want the government to get bigger and and more restrictive.

    In a completely free government, corporations would be bigger and more powerful than they are now (no antritrust law, for example). By definition, only government (and not private corporations) has the ability to restrict rights.
  • The general public will stand for a loss of freedom as long as its for someone else. The majority of voting Americans are between 35-55, this age group really has little concept of what an mp3 is, what linux is, thinks the internet is just hackers and porn, never heard of Free Software, browse the web via AOL, etc. There are exceptions of course, many in this age group are bright and visible contributers to an online society, but I would estimate 70 percent of voters dont care about online interests. Where the laws will change is when they start encrouching in areas that affect them. The danger that they are not yet aware of is some of the precidences being set in laws that were made this year. I still feel confident that will time these will be judged to be unconstitional and eventually overturned. Secondly feel enourgaged that a Republican President is in the house, as crippled and uncertain as this might be traditionally those that give more expect more, i.e democrats normally have pushed an agenda of the government "caring" for the people, as in welfare, social security, government run health care, emissions testing, etc...while this is all great (if you dont mind the taxes to pay for them), if you arent careful this makes a more and more powerful government that has the power to legislate away your rights. While I didnt vote for Mr. Bush I feel confident that the recent trend will slow and possible reverse especially if Bush gets to appoint 2 supreme court justices.
  • by MemRaven (39601) <kirk@kirk w y lie.com> on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:58AM (#533693)
    So there are plenty of micro countries where you might have more freedom (look for where they're doing money laundering/anonymous transactions). The issue is whether you're interested in the same standard of living as you're getting in the US.

    If you're really interested in keeping the same standard of living as you're getting in the US, you've only got a few choices, namely the EU, the US, Canada, and a few countries in Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan notably).

    For Asia, you're dealing with a situation which might seem like it offers more things like privacy, but have much less open political processes (like Singapore) which might actually reduce your overall level of freedom.

    For the EU, while you'll get more chance to protect your privacy (the EU is much more forward thinking than the US when it comes to individual rights), many EU countries offer MUCH less than the US when it comes to the conventional US perspective on personal freedom (higher taxes, more government regulation, bizantine regulation on things the US takes for granted [like shop opening hours in Germany and the lack of a Bill of Rights in the UK]). So while you might get some things, you give up others in return.

    So it depends on what your personal tradeoff is. If you're most concerned with fighting your perceived corporatism, you want to leave. If you're mostly interested in your personal liberty, you probably want to stay.

    I can't really comment that much on Canada....can someone else fill in the gaps?

    But the entire question is completely moot, as national standards have completely removed your ability to emigrate to anywhere which is a developed economy (while you can LEAVE the US pretty easily, you can't go TO anywhere else). So you're pretty much stuck here regardless.

  • by Blue Neon Head (45388) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:58AM (#533695)
    This is not meant inflammatory but I'm really irritated by this statement: Is the United States still the best choice of a place to live for safety, freedom, and quality of life?

    Do you really mean that? What led you to believe that this ever was the case?


    What led you to believe that it wasn't? In which nation would you prefer to have spent time in before WWII? Americans enjoyed a higher standard of living, higher per capita income, and more freedom than most Europeans did, with the added bonus that we weren't ravaged by war every decade or so. However bizarre this "US sense of patriotism" may be, and however much stupidity may manifest itself here, it's hardly jinogistic to say that, in general, Americans have had it better than most.
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:59AM (#533699) Homepage Journal

    What led you to believe that this ever was the case?

    The Bill of Rights, and numerous historical court cases where those laws were upheld. Especially when we're young and in school, we're taught that the government actually obeys these laws most of the time. It takes a few years for exposure to counterexamples, and disillusionment, to sink in.


    ---
  • by Art Tatum (6890) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:59AM (#533700)
    The work done at the Continental Congress was spectacular. When you consider the beauty of the Constitution and the government it outlines, it really is awe-inspiring. It's a great piece of political design. This is what the patriotism is about. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the system fell apart.
  • So it's no different to the US then?
  • Every country gives you some freedoms, that others don't give. Some countries in Africa where nomads are the largest faction give you the most freedom, but at the expense of many things you take for granted. Assuming you aren't willing to live without them (Like , you have to take some compromise.

    If you want the freedom to drink when you are under 21, most of is better, likewise for many drugs.

    If you want to own guns, then the US has the most freedom here.

    If you want to be assured to will have food and shelter even if you don't work, Sweden is the most free, but they have in their own way limits on freedom. One is taxes, you don't have to work in Sweden, but if you want to buy something (Other then food and shelter) you have to pay for it, and that normally means work. Work means they take at least 60% of your money in taxes. (In the US it is about 40%)

    Vote libratarian. I don't need freedom to look at porn because my religion prohibits me anyway - but I need freedom of religion. Joe down the road loves his guns, but doesn't care about religion or the press. Alone we are divided, I oppose porn, but if I'm willing to allow you to have your vice, and you allow me mine, togather we are a large force.

    Don't forget that in the US your vote is counted. Get involved, make sure there is no election fraud in your distrcit (even if it is to your favor!). Alone we lose freedom, togather we stand up for everyone in a force that the corruption in DC cannot hope to match.

  • One of the paradoxes of a free society is the fact that it is free enough to destroy itself. The alternative isn't very applealing if you think about it.

    The great thing about this place is that if you really do believe things are wrong we have the tools to fix it. This also means that if you oppenent doesn't want you to fix them then they have every right to stop you from accomplishing their goals. You can't have "free for the good(me) guys but not for the evil(other) guys". How do you determine "evil(other) guys"? To have anything less would be problematic.

    Slashdot just like other place tends to grab the senasational topics and hold on to them. I'm not saying it there aren't problems out there. There will always be problems in any culture. I really don't believe things are horribly wrong and studies have shown that if you aren't afluently rich open soceities like the US are the best places to be.
  • Let's keep in mind that Civil Rights (in capitals), while provided for in the Constitution, were never really enforced all that much until the mid- to late-60's. Also keep in mind that politicians are almost always older than 40 and frequently older than 60--making them pre-Civil Rights-era. Just think of the McCarthy era in the 1950's and THEN ask yourself whether freedoms are greater or lesser nowadays.

    Also remember that politicians aren't the last word. Joe Lawmaker can pass any law he can get enough votes for....but they are still subject to judgement by the Judicial Branch. There's been a lot of talk about how the Judicial Branch in general and the Supreme Court in particular has been compromised by the election controversy, but on the whole I think the system (the *Judicial* system) works well.

    That's not to say I counsel complacence. Don't just sit around saying "it's pretty good, I think I'll stay". The Judicial Branch is passive by design. It can only rule on cases that are brought to it. So go out, find an unjust law and challenge it! Think of it as removing bugs from the legal system.
    --
    MailOne [openone.com]
  • It all depends where you put your emphasis on.

    I'm from Germany, but I lived for one year in the US when I was sixteen years old. (Which is, by incident, only four years ago.)

    What amazed me the most was how strongly you restrict the freedom of your children. E.g. curfew in major cities, drinking age being 21, whole school policies like lav passes. You get my drift. Being from Germany these restrictions where extremely hard to put up with.

    OTOH, some people might find it troubling (sp?) how some forms of speech are limited here in Germany, e.g. hate speech, denial of the holocaust, personal insults (= libel?), etc. I don't really have a problem with these restrictions, but I expect very libetarian people to cry out loud at these restrictions.

    So it all depends, which freedoms you value most. You will definatelly not be able to enjoy all freedoms one can imagine to the fullest, because, after all, you have to live in some society. And given that no two people are alike, you will run into problems at one point which can only be solved by restricting your freedoms in some way.

  • by pallex (126468) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:01AM (#533707)
    "made me lose even more faith in the system. "

    The system is (almost) perfect. Vote for who you want. The person with the most votes gets in. Its a little skewed by the electoral college system, but still its only out by a few %. This time the difference in number of votes is inside that margin of error, but on the whole that doesnt happen.

    What i hear people complaining about is that the `wrong` person got in. Well, thats a `fault` of the people voting. I dont like anyone thats been voted in in the states for the last 30 odd years.

    It`d be nice if people went `wait a minute, i dont like (for example) the `war on drugs`, lets vote for someone who`ll dump it and spend the money saved on free health insurance`. As soon as they do, the war on drugs will go away.

    But imagine a perfect (in your eyes) system. Wouldnt it still suck if people voted for morons? An uncrackable system is no use if people use `guest/guest` for their id/password. You wouldnt blame the system then, so why do so now?

  • by sgendler (237727) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:01AM (#533708)
    The whole point of all of the global economic organizations and treaties is to provide market protection to the large transnational corporations. Any time a member country passes legislation giving preferential treatment to small or local businesses, the WTO turns around and levies fines and/or trade sanctions, or the world bank restricts devlopment funds until the restrictions are removed. If you think you can escape the large transnationals just by hiding behind a border, you have another think coming.

    Every country may not be quite a bad as ours, but they are all heading that direction, and it is only a matter of time. I guess you could move to Cuba! At least right now, in the US, citizens have some rights and protection from the authorities, even if certain forces are constantly lobbying to reduce our rights and freedoms. I would still rather live in a place where the press is free to report what they want, even if the press is almost entirely dominated by corporate interests, and where cops have to at least call a judge before breaking down my door to confiscate my belongings.

    I certainly wouldn't mind if my tax dollars went to services that I actually felt I needed, but then I wouldn't have to spend my after tax dollars on the very consumables I should have subsidized by my government, and that might cut into corporate profits. God forbid I should spend a couple dollars a day on public transport, rather than $20,000+ dollars on a car plus maintenance, insurance, and petroleum costs (and pollution). But that's just my opinion. Ask this question again in 4 years, and we will see just how bad our new friend in the white house has made things.

  • I'm originally from England, and moved to the States about 15 years ago. From what I'd seen and read I believed the US had a frontier spirit of freedom and essentially unfettered capitalism/entrepreneurism, but this notion was dashed very quickly after I came here.

    Compared to England, the US has a zillion restrictions on individual freedoms that everyone takes for granted and doesn't question. I guess most countries are the same, but US citizens (which I am now myself) do seem much more naieve in that they seem to believe their country compares favorably in this regard when IMO it does not.
  • Campaign Finance Reform.

    Go write a check to John McCain for $100 or whatever you can afford. He's the only politician I truly believe wants to use the system to fix the system. After all, thats the only way this stuff will be remedied.

    We need more individuals funding campaigns, and less corporations and soft money, etc.
  • I still reccomed the U.S.

    The fact that we here on Slashdot (and about 100000000 other places) bitch and moan about the United States and its problems proves just how great and strong our nation still is. While it may seem to be in the grips of political, social, and economic apathy, there is still an undercurrent of respect and desire to achieve a base of freedoms which is either unavailable or unattainable elswhere in the world.

    Does the United States, its governement and corporate structure, have problems? Of course. Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of living in a perfect Utopia. The problems of the U.S. are the problems of human beings as a whole, they are a reflection on our attitudes and actions towards one another on a scale of history. However, moving from place to place, in an attempt to avoid dealing with the human issues that could topple a country, isnt really the answer. By moving once things get tough, you would essentially be running from a greater responsiblity to help make your country a place that YOU can believe in again.

    Remember, when this country was founded by some revolutionary crazies a few hundred years ago, popular support was with the British. Most people could care less about any vague notions about future governments, just as long as they had peace and entertainment. It was up to the men (and women) who believed in something greater and better to move the minds of the masses, and effect the change that freed us from the rule of a dictator (which, no matter what others say, IMHO still have not regressed to).

    Constant pundancy and demonstration. These are things that can actually change a government, and it has been proven time and time again, in country after country (no matter how naive it sounds). The more desperate the situation, the louder you should raise your voice. That is why the founders of the country included those rights in our constitution, and why they must continue to be practiced, even in the fact of governmental ignorance of our basic rights as Americans (yet another thing to change).

    I still believe in the basic ideals of freedom and equality this country was founded on. Were grevious mistakes made along the way, rights taken and people slandered without hope or cause? Yes. Again, we are, unfortunately, human and governed by nothing more than flawed human beings. However, to negate the idea of a good government because of the flaws of humans is a mistake.

    Dont give up on the U.S. just yet. Not when it most needs your help.

    I really hope that doesn't fall under the realm of national bias (it might, and i apologize). I was just trying to address your disillusionment in the U.S.



  • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:05AM (#533719)
    > Is the United States still the best choice of a place to live for safety, freedom, and quality of life?

    Safety, freedom, quality of life. Choose any two.

  • by matman (71405) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:05AM (#533720)
    Canada's not too bad - although I can't really compare it to other countries...

    Here, even child pornography has been found to be protected under free speech laws. That's kind of nutty, but it shows that we're serious about free speech, even if we have to take the bad with the good.

    The only major invasions that we've had (that I'm aware of), were the Americans trying to take the country; apparently Canada is their 'manifest destiny' or something like that.
  • The one thing is that space-based life is probably going to be mucho expensive. Remember, you have to pack everything with you, and it still takes a lot of fuel to get anything up there.

    A cheaper solution might be colonizing the ocean surface or ocean floor. The surface has to deal with weather, the floor has to deal with pressure, but you have access to raw materials and the geek's best friend, cheap sushi!.

    The disadvantage is that other countries already have weapons designed to destroy such facilities, so you have to invest in an armed force and/or treaties. In space, people have yet to mass-produce the weapons that can take out a station.

  • by Wyatt Earp (1029)
    For years...no decades people in the US have whined about how the Corporations are running everything and takine our rights away.

    I'm 27, I still have my Right to Bare Arms, my Right of Free Speech, My Right to Record stuff on my Replay TV and my Right to Download P0rn on my G3.

    I've been all over the World, and I'm pretty up to date on Geo-political issues, and IMHO there isn't a more free Democratic-Republic on Earth.

    Corporations are not evil. They are just there. Attempting to do what is right for thier shareholders and employees.

    To answer your question. It's not that bad. /. just has alot of Chicken Little's screaming the sky is falling all the time.

    If you think the US is bad...I suggest you go out and read up on...Oh. Nazi Germany, Czarist or Communist Russia, most of Central and Southern Africa. North Korea or Communist China...Places where there really are no rights.
  • It's becoming that. There was an article on CNN a few months back about what would happen if Canada were to be annexed by the US (after a successful Quebec separation). It was pretty interesting. Saying things like "The US has already designed the flag to represent 51 states... with canada being the 51st".

    Pretty scarry.

    Canada is very similar to the US (I travel back and forth from Ottawa regularly) However, there are some subtle differences. Personally, I feel these differences make if very worth while. For example:

    SSN (we call it SIN) is protected by LAW.
    Privacy is protected by LAW.
    Lower tax rates have just been implemented (George W. is just talking about doing this now..)
    No unreasonalbe search and seizure.
    etc etc.
  • Asking "Is the United States still the best choice of a place to live for safety, freedom, and quality of life?" is definitely flamebait and this sort of question can not result in a serious discussion without all kinds of bigotry. I'm sure many people will see this post as very anti US and anti gun. This is not the case however. As a matter of fact I enjoy sport shooting a lot and I just got back from a vacation in the USA (San Francisco & Las Vegas). I like the USA a lot but it certainly isn't paradise.

    Having said this, I want to say that the question I just quoted is pretty bizarre. Was the USA *ever* the choice for safety, freedom and quality of life? I mean safety!?!? Where else in the world do kids shoot other kids in school? There's a mass killing every week or so when some madman starts playing real-life Quake at work!

    Freedom? I never understood why people in the USA think their country is so free. Just about every European country is at least as free and many are much more so (the Netherlands and Denmark quickly come to mind). It seems to me that the only thing that is really more free in the USA than elsewhere is easy access to guns. You can own guns in most other countries too though, so go figure.

    Quality of life? Canada comes up on top in the UN quality of life evaluations all the time and are closely followed by many European countries such as Finland, Norway and Sweden.

    Myself, I'm from Finland and I consider it a very nice country. One noticeable thing I see a lot in the USA that we don't have here is a type of fear for "big brother" and "the government". I think it has to do with the size of the country. Here, most people have friends or relatives that work or have worked in some government function at some point. We see the government as "us" - not as "them". It's not "they pass laws" - it's "we pass laws".

    If you think things are getting out of hand in the USA and want to move, I cound recommend just about any European country. For those fearing the cold, there's much more cold and snow on the east coast of USA right now than there is here in Finland. :)
  • > Freedom - is the ability to be heard by people if you speak.

    Where'd you get that definition of freedom?! Freedom is the right to do/say/think whatever you want provided you do not violate the harm principle (see J.S. Mill, On Liberty).

    And the notion that past theorists, philosophers, etc. were given a wide audience with those who held opposing viewpoints is completely blind to history. The ability to espouse opposing viewpoints is more available now than it was in history.
  • ...I'm gonna buy myself an island....or build a hugemungous oil platform type thing. Somewhere in the Carribean, over 12 miles from any land. Put a resort and a golf course or two up there. Can't cost more than $1bln USD...

    Of course, there will be a data haven too.

  • by Interrobang (245315) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:10AM (#533752) Journal
    the world is only a limited number of steps away from UN domination

    Woah, woah, woah, there, pardner! I reckon you have the wrong letter in there. Shouldn't it read, "the world is only a limited number of steps away from US domination"? From my perspective, anyway, untainted by rumours of Zurich Gnomes, the ZOG, and other Z-things (including Zundel), the UN is pretty ineffectual and hardly does anything -- at least not compared to the US Government, which has its tentacles in too many international pies to count; various and sundry US-based/spawned trans- or multinational corporations, and "organizations" like ICANN. Based on that evidence, I'd say the latter version of that first statement is closer to some version of Reality[TM] than the former.

    As to the original poster's question about places where you might want to live, I'd suggest Canada (of course) -- can UNESCO surveys really be that wrong? -- and Iceland, which, going by recent developments in R&D, "green" technology, and business over there, is going to be kicking our collective North American @$$es around the block in a few years.

    Note on the former: Don't plan on going to either of those places if you don't like the cold and/or don't like paying taxes. My suggestion on the former, though, is to wear layers (it's -23 C outside my window this afternoon), and my suggestion on the latter is that generally you get what you pay for...particularly in places like Canada and Iceland.
  • While the US is definitely in a downward spiral of personal freedoms at the moment (and I speak from experience, as a US citizen, and as a musician that has had more than one piece of music stolen by some "corporate entity" that said I was working for them at the time I wrote it), I don't think you will find things much better anywhere else.

    The problem is not so much the government, but the fact that the government isn't actually running the way that it is supposed to be. It is not running based on the idealism of the forefathers, where the people have a say in what goes on. It is running purely and fully on the greed and money of the multi-national corporations. And these multi-nationals are going to be powerful no matter where you go on this planet. Unfortunately, at the moment, you are limited to this planet.

    The money is what runs the show. If you have enough money, you can have all the freedom you want. But, most of us don't have the money. And our "choices" for political offices are made by the people that do have the money. We can choose between the guy that is getting half of the political money of big business for his campaign, or we can choose the guy that gets the other half of the political money of big business for his campaign. Of course, there are the third parties, but, as always, we are told that a vote for any third party candidate is a vote for (most evil option here) to scare us into staying with the status quo.

    Our freedoms are eroding, and I have looked into the possibility of moving out of the country myself. But where would I go? I can speak French passibly (as well as English) so that opens up a few more doors, but the possibilities that I would move just to face exactly the same situation seems ridiculously stupid. In America, we are supposed to have a voice. But, until enough people wake up out of the rebuplicratic fog that they are in and vote their heart instead of their fear, well, it just isn't going to change.

    Maybe, if more people became informed it would change. But don't hold your breath. Oh, and one other thing. If you do find a cool place to live, move there and are satisfied with it, let me know. I'd love to get away from here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:11AM (#533761)
    "I hear Canada has strange porn laws, you can probably find harder porn in the US (I'm talking dead tree porn here). "

    necrodendrophilia?
  • I've lived in both the US and the UK. Which is more free, well it depends on how you want to look at it. I read a radio station in London got fined for supporting a canidate in an election, in the US that happens all the time. On the other I felt that it was much less of an issue to not be of the Majority religion there than here. At least socially.

    There are a lot of things that I liked about living in the UK, but I have to say I really do feal that the US has more political freedom at least on the major fronts (Press, Religion etc)

    Plus the UK is doing its best to get rid of Jurries and such.

    The cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • in America.

    Granted, our freedoms are in need of attention, but even so, the rights we have here are greater than the rights I have seen in just about any other place.

    From what I can see, other countries make a policy of selective enforcement of their laws, often resulting in relative freedom for a particular set of folks. This could be good for you now, but come the revolution (or election...) you might end up of the receiving end :(.

    Also, it seems that the US tax structure is one of the more fair ones in the world. Compared to to others, at least you get a CHANCE of saving your money. If you think it is bad here, check out Canada, Sweden, or New Zealand. And these were the good spots.

  • very very wrong. Move to a Eurpoean country and have a lot of taxes goto healthcare. Sorry, I would rather not have to pay 50% of my wages to pay for someone else's care.
  • by IdIoTt (130358) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:15AM (#533776)
    As an American citizen, I am disappointed with the direction I see my nation heading. However, I still believe it to be one of the best in which to live in regards to the protection of basic rights. The question that now presents itself is, Who is to blame? Many wish to blame government, while others wish to blame big business. This may very well be true, but I place much of the blame on the very citizens of this country. In spite of what some people may think, more and more power has been given to the voters over the many years of this country. It is our right, and duty, to vote, and to do so intelligently. In my experience, the average American just doesn't care about what is going on about them. The attitude of a number of my fellow co-workers is, "It doesn't matter who I vote for, they are all going to screw me." This leads to the "why vote at all" attitude. This then leads to even more atrophy of the democratic system as it allows money, not principles, to buy votes. While I admit that money will always have power, the power of social momentum should not be overlooked. In the end, for America to become/remain the greatest country of all, the citizens must take action on a large scale and help to mold the country into what they wish it to be. There are many dangers in this, but there are also many great rewards. Let us thank the founding fathers for their far reaching sight. God Bless America.
  • Office and School shootings are infact quite rare in the USA. Your chances of getting killed in one are a lot lower than your chance of getting hit by a drunk driver going home from work.

    Its just when they happen they are *VERY* big news. I mean the one in the Boston area last week got covered in the British Press. (And probably other places as well, I don't read them). But the truth is that in a nation of 283 Million people this type of thing happens only about 2 times a year or so.

    The cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:16AM (#533781) Homepage Journal

    Has Microsoft taken away your right to form a militia? Has Pepsi told you what religion to practice? Has Exxon tried to force you to harbor soldiers against your will?

    No, but... They have used highly advanced social engineering to take advantage of the fact the people are sheep, and further bred and proliferated the sheep mentality. This leads to people not forming militias, homogenously practicing religeons, and accepting the pretense of authority of any central organization that is sufficiently proficient in the art.

    It's not really the use of force. It's something new that really only came of age in the 20 Century. I don't think that philosophers and political thinkers have come to grips with it yet, or even done a good job of identifying it, so it doesn't classify as a crime or oppression by most people's standards, yet. Maybe in 100 years, the behavior of Microsoft and Pepsi will be viewed as politically oppressive, and people will wonder with amazement as to why the people of 2001 just stood there and took it.


    ---
  • Besides which, the Constitution is an agreement between the people and the Federal government on what the government will be allowed to do. Unfortunately, people have stopped enforcing the Constitution on our government, and our government is fully aware of that.

    Corporations have nothing to do with Constitutional freedoms.
    -russ
  • but I'm a Texan, so I'd probably last until October, then they'd uncover a man-shaped ice block next May. =)
  • by mirko (198274) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:18AM (#533793) Journal
    I recently moved in Bern and I'd give anything to stay.
    Swiss are friendly, they care for you and they are the best educated people I've ever met.
    The tax system is comfortable and because of their neutrality, you can be sure no political issue will make people threaten you because of your ideas.
    BTW, if you love fresh air and innovant people, this is definitely a good choice provided you accept the rules.
    As a French, I however wouldn't fight for the French but rather for the Swiss which peaceful spirit makes life here a Paradise.
    It's also quite a tempered country where you won't get a cold, despite some rumours spread by the collegues I had in Duesseldorf (Germany) where the weather might have been the most horrible I subished.
    So, 2 thumbs up for the Swiss :-)
    --
  • >What this means is that every media state ends up a bit like Brave New World, [ ... ] So, where's the freedom? There is none. Saftey? In the US, sure, you can get physical saftey. It's irrelevant without freedom. [If safety and freedom] aren't enough to you, then quality of life is what you make of it.

    Well-put.

    The US became great because it created a mindset where your "quality of life" was proportional to your "freedom". It wasn't safe by a long shot, but the rewards were spectacular. Sure, we genocided the Indians, but we colonized a continent and created an industrialized economy half a world away from the nearest likely invader.

    In recent decades, arguably starting with the New Deal in the 30s, people switched mindsets: "quality of life" became widely regarded a function of "safety" - and "safety" of which most people speak is emphatically not the first amendment protections you describe. And today we have CDA and DMCA and Carnivore. For the chillldrun.

    I'm not sure what the point of all this is, other than that you should be damn sure what you mean by "safety, freedom, and quality of life" before you take the plunge.

    On the other hand, if you can watch The Matrix and feel at least some empathy for the guy who said "Y'know, Agent, I don't care if I'm really just a brain in a vat somewhere and all this is an illusion, I just want to taste a goddamn steak"... or you figure that your rights in your nation are gonna be stripped anyways, why not come to the States, where at least you can get a Lexus and a six-figure-income in exchange.

    Although those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither, if you're gonna lose your liberty anyways - better to get something in exchange for it. It's a damn sight better than the deal offered in most of the rest of the world.

  • by K. (10774)
    You may not have noticed, but we're in the middle
    of a series of political scandals. It's beginning
    to look like our entire government has been
    available to the highest bidder since the 70s.

    We also pay 45ish percent income tax, and 20% VAT
    (sales tax). Though as you've said, that's
    coming down. Our recent prosperity has resulted
    in the growth of racism as more people come here
    from overseas looking for work - ironic
    considering our recent history. Wealth isn't
    even close to being shared properly. Until
    1991 or so, homosexuality was illegal, and
    divorce was only voted in 5ish years ago.

    However, gender equality is coming on nicely,
    as are electronic privacy laws. We're nowhere
    near as observed as the US and UK populations,
    and the separation of church and state is
    finally bearing fruit. If we can stop the
    further development of a two-tier society, nip
    the racism thing in the bud, and introduce more
    accountability into the political process, we
    should be a pretty okay place to live in a
    decade or so.

    Assuming that the next recession doesn't put us
    back to square one.

    K.
    -
  • what you're going to hear here is a lot of opinions. Freedom is, and always has been a relative term (to anyone but an anarchist).

    However, will I say that it's bad in America?
    No. Not yet. Several changes have been made that set the stage for some potential very bad things to happen in the future. Many of these changes are reversible, and many of them are clearly unconstitutional.

    However () the courts have shown quite clearly with the election debacle, that they are not above political bias. The courts are the ones who decide on a law's constitutionality. Also, the relative cluelessness of politicians who passed these laws, coupled with a recent and strong conservative shift in our government, all seem to point to the notion that the constitutionality of these laws will not be challenged, moreover, new laws are likely to be made, even worse than the ones that are already on the books, especially with the calls for globalization, which put the requirements of the global economy and businesses above the requirements of the people - it sure looks like things are going to get real bad soon.

    All of this was brought to you by the corrupt campaign financing codes of the United States election system, and of course billions of dollars of bribes ^H^H^H^H^H^H contributions from the richest corporations and 5% of the population.

    I've said this before, and I'll say it again. I blame the morons who didn't vote for McCain in the primaries. (especially the idiots in Michigan who believed that bullshit "McCain is for breast cancer" propaganda that Bush's rich Christian whacko buddies telephoned out on their soft-money dime) Without campaign finance reform, it will be business as usual, no matter which party holds sway. We are fucked, fucked, fucked, until that changes.
  • by rho (6063)
    It seems like corporations have no desire other than to strip us of what few remaining freedoms we have, and the government is doing nothing to check their power scramble.

    You expect the government to guarantee freedom and liberty? I sincerely hope that's a joke...

    Any government (or, really, any group of people gathered in sufficient numbers) will take every opportunity to garner more power for themselves -- it's human nature. Take a look at your company's IT department for confirmation ("Yeah, we need to go with Windows NT, sotto voce: so we'll be guaranteed a job").

    You never want the people with all the money and all the guns to be the same people (see puppet dictatorships in some of the more squallid sectors of our planet). With unheard of money coming in from taxes, and a military (paid for by same taxes), the government has both.

    We're lucky in America that the founders thought little enough of governments that they specifically limited it's power -- and it worked pretty well. It took almost 150 years before the government managed to sneak off with our liberties.

    Personally, I believe our problem stems from the vanished wilderness. 100 year ago, if you didn't like how things were going in town, you hitched up your wagon and headed west, where freedom and liberty was still available for those with the desire to seek it out. Now, you can travel from New York to Los Angeles in a car without needing an oil change, and there's nowhere left to go to "get away" (except a few _really_ undesirable places like, say, the tundra of Alaska).

    You have a few choices to deal with this, and one of them is not bashing "evil corporations" (remember, a business has to sell the Vietnam War to you, the government can just enforce conscription and ship your ass over there):

    • Give the government less money and expect less from it and vote that way
    • Accept that you're going to lose a few freedoms in exchange for governmental "security"
    • Utilize our evil, corrupt, morally bankrupt capitalist system to make a ton of cash and buy freedom (in the form of anonymity, or a small island in continental waters)

    Remember this -- as long as government has the power to take your freedoms, the ones with the dough will abuse that government to take more freedoms from you (vis, the DMCA, UCITA, et al). Without the power of government to enforce these crappy freedom-losing laws, the MPAA-crew can't chase you down, hang you up by your ankles and shake all the money out of your pocket. You have to reach in yourself and give it to them.

    (i.e. vote Libertarian next election cycle, unless you're really attached to governmental largesse)

  • by OlympicSponsor (236309) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:25AM (#533842)
    "...the things I like about America are its Constitution which safeguards certains rights."

    "...I am a wee bit uncomfortable at the lack of a National Health Service that is government funded and the Gun laws make me nervous too, but that is only to be expected."

    I don't want to be shot anymore than anyone else does. And if I was shot, naturally I'd love to get free health care. Nonetheless, I firmly believe that the two cons you cite are directly related to the main pro.

    Sure it'd be great if we all shared--but forced sharing (welfare, national health care, etc) is the antithesis of freedom. Two wrongs don't make a right.

    As for guns: in the final analysis, each person has only as much freedom as he or she can personally enforce. Guns (or any other weapon) are an effective means of doing so, which is EXACTLY why ownership thereof is specifically allowed in the Second Amendment. Make all the noises you want about safety, children, Columbine, Wakefield, or whatever--these are no more than the analogue of protected Nazi marches or anti-abortion websites. You've got to take the bad with the good.
    --
    MailOne [openone.com]
  • by strain2k (87900) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:28AM (#533866)
    So, what DOES a Canadian Have to be Proud of?

    1. Smarties
    2. Crispy Crunch
    3. Coffee Crisp
    4. The size of our footballs, fields and one less Down
    5. Lacrosse is Canadian
    6. Hockey is Canadian
    7. Basketball is Canadian
    8. Mr. Dress-up can kick Mr. Rogers ass
    9. Tim Hortons kicks Dunkin' Donuts ass
    10. In the war of 1812, Canadians pushed the Americans so far back...passed their 'White House', we burned it... and most of Washington, under the command of William Lyon McKenzie who was insane and hammered all the time. We got bored because they ran away so we came home and partied... Go figure.
    11. Canada has the largest French population that never surrendered to Germany.
    12. We have the largest English population that never-ever surrendered or withdrew during any war.
    13. Our civil war was a big bar fight that lasted a little over an hour.
    14. The only person who was arrested in our civil war was an American mercenary, who slept in and missed the whole thing...but showed up just in time to get caught.
    15. We knew plaid was cool far before Seattle caught on.
    16. The Hudson's Bay Company once owned over 10% of the earth's surface and is still around as the world's oldest Company.
    17. The average dog sled team can kill and devour a full grown human in under 3 minutes.
    18. We still know what to do with all the parts of a buffalo.
    19. We don't marry our kin-folk.
    20. We invented ski-doos, jet-skis, velcro, zippers, zambonis,the long distance and short wave radios that save countless live each year.
    21. We ALL have frozen our tongues to something metal and lived to tell about it.
    22. Oh ya...and the handles on our beer cases are big enough to fit your hands with mitts on.

    .........OOOOoohhhhh Canada!! Eh!!! ;)
  • by Tumbleweed (3706) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:30AM (#533879)
    If by freedom, you mean the ability to affect change as a private citizen, then I think the U.S. is still far and away the most 'free' country on the planet. It's FAR from perfect, but we don't have military coups even when our election process is completely hosed. Any private nutcase (hello, Mr. Perot) can run for president, and might even do well (assuming he's _not_ a nutcase, that is).

    You can find countries with better & socialized health care systems (and _much_ higher taxes), you can find countries with much better public education (and _much_ higher taxes). There are some countries with better stances on citizen privacy, crypto controls, and the like, but when you get right down to it, you have to take the whole of a country, not just their stance on one or two issues. And you must consider how feasible it is to affect change in that country, as mentioned above.

    The U.S. has pretty good healthcare (though obviously corrupt and with a focus on after-the-fact rather than preventative care), our taxes are pretty low, we've got welfare, social security, and medicare (though those could all be overhauled pretty seriously). We've got okay public education (though thanks to 'local control', it varies wildly. Our food & fuel prices are among the lowest, also.

    Grass-roots initatives are gaining in popularity (at least, they're going crazy here in the Seattle area) - anyone can start one (hello, Tim Eyman), and they often pass.

    I think many people feel disenfranchised in the U.S. simply because they don't understand how the system works, and that they CAN make a difference if they have the right idea, and put in a lot of work.

    As far as the political machine goes, the most obvious problem is the two party system. I'm of a mind that it should be a NO PARTY system. If you belong to a party, your loyalties go to that party, not to the people who elected you. Is every stance by your party going to be good for those that voted you in? Not hardly! Campaign finance reform needs to be done immediately, too, to minimize corruption. (Help! Help! I'm being repressed!) Something I thought was interesting was when people were 'vote swapping' via websites before the election and all the politicans were aghast at that - vote swapping, imagine that! Well, just what do you think EVERY SINGLE POLITICIANS DOES whenever they want something passed? "Sure, I'll vote for your upcoming nuke-the-whales bill if you vote for my guns-for-tots bill." And let's not even get into the people who influence politicans for a living (LEGALLY!). Yes, there's a lot wrong with the system, but the underlying freedom to change it is vast.

    And what about our legal system? Now _there's_ a fucked-up mess! Instead of trying to find the 'truth' of an issue, instead we have a battle between who has the best lawyer (hi there, O.J.). And the death penalty is ridiculous considering we don't have a way of verifying _absolutely_ whether someone is telling the truth or not. Even people who confess to crimes are sometimes lying, for various reasons. You'd think videotape would be enough to convict someone of a crime, but that's apparently not the case (hello Rodney King-beating police officers). Until such time as we can absolutely, 100.000% verify whether someone has committed a crime, the death penalty should not be an option. On the other hand, keep in mind that many prison inmates have better living conditions than U.S. military field personnel do (a fact - a friend of mine was in the Gulf, and this pisses him off no end, apparently). You'd think the idea of prisons being self-supporting would be an obvious one, but I guess not. There is apparently no such thing as 'common sense'. Too bad.

    Now, often when I get on a tirade like this, some dufus brings up something about how the Founding Fathers intended this or that. Completely ridiculous. First, the Founding Fathers were hardly saints - many of them owned slaves (including Thomas Jefferson, who had more to do with creating our governmental structure than anyone), plus they were all part-time politicians, and had intended that to be the case in the future for others. They had no knowledge of what this country would be like over 200 years later, but they put a process in place to change the Constitution - the process of amending the constitution. It's even been done several times already (though not for a long time). They obviously INTENDED the Constitution to be modified over time. Talk about foresight! I think their taking their own fallibility into account when creating this country was probably THE best thing they did.

    Okay, that's enough - I'm tired of typing right now.

  • Use fertilizer. Really I wouldn't normally comment on something like this but this time, as someone who has lived in far worse places than the US, I feel I must.

    One of the problems with /. and with the media in general is that the only things that ever get talked about are negative. Here at /. we worry about corporations taking our freedom especially in the area of computers. This is good, because someone has to do it. But in reality, those of use living in the US have it pretty good, and most of the stuff that gets posted on /. gets horribly skewed by raging paranoia.

    A few things to remember:

    1. Corporations want to make money no matter where in the world they are
    2. Corporation will bend laws to make money no matter who it hurts
    3. Greed will ensure that rule 1 and 2 always exist
    We can't have it both ways. We let the gov't control all production and we'll end up like Russia.

    As for the US government I'm a little annoyed by the idea in this article that none of them have even read the constitution. This is not at all true. I have met several of my own representatives and I truely believe that they are trying to do what they feel is best for the people. Those of us reading /. and using Linux need to understand that most people out there just want to have nice homes, families, and jobs and make money. They don't want to worry about the l33t h@X0rs trying to get into their computers. The lawmakers aren't trying to take our freedom. They are trying to give people what they want. Average Joe windoze user doesn't understand that legislation will do nothing to effect what's on the Internet.

    So back to my original comment. If the grass is greener on the other side, use fertilizer. Move to italy but it won't change anything. Educate the people that vote for your government and change everything. You don't like corporations, don't buy what the sell. Sadly everyone complains about the phone company, the internet service but no one stops buying it. I guess here in america we can't live without those things.

    I've lived in a 3rd world country, people dont' have the right to get a decent meal everyday much less 3 and much less the ability to speak out freely about their conditions. But you know, a lot of those people are happy anyway. Maybe the best thing that could happen for us here in america is if we put away our fax machines, phones, pagers and computers for awhile and try to see what's really important, probably cut down on the problems with snooping greeding corporations as well.


    Never knock on Death's door:

  • by schon (31600) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:40AM (#533921)
    child pornography has been found to be protected under free speech laws

    This isn't true; it's (at best) based on a half-truth..

    Kiddie porn is illegal under bill C-128, which is an amendment to Canada's criminal code.

    The courts ruled that the wording of bill C-128 violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (our constitution.) The Charter of Rights and Freedoms does more that just guarantee free speech.

    The reason that the courts ruled that it violated the Charter is because the bill is badly written. It makes an overly-broad definition of the term "child pornography", and severly limits who is allowed to "possess" it (it's not completely illegal.) The part the BC supreme court had a problem with (specifically) is that the definition of child porn includes nude pictures of anyone pretending to be under the age of 18, or writing that describes sexual acts with anyone under the age of 18.

    In their ruling, the judge specifically singled out the written part, saying (correctly) that if someone were to write down a personal fantasy of a fictional account they could be thrown in jail, and "this comes dangerously close to infringing on freedom of thought" (quoting from memory, it's been ahwile since I read the breif).

    The problem stems from Mulroney's conservative government, who passed the bill even after they were told that the wording was flawed.

    If the damn liberal government was really serious about this crap, they would re-write the law, and address the issues mentioned in the judge's ruling.
  • by BigBlockMopar (191202) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:42AM (#533932) Homepage

    I'd like to be free to keep more than 50% of my income, without having it all go to taxes to support dubious socialist programs that I'll never make use of, because I *work* for a living.

    I'd like to be free not to have my government try to reduce my standard of living to that of the lowest common denominator.

    I'd like to be free to say what I want - even though I probably wouldn't exercise that freedom - without the Canadian government telling me that what I say is obscene, unfair or unjust, and therefore proving that I have freedom of speech to a point, similar to the way that China has freedom of speech to a point.

    I'd like to be free to drive on roads without jackasses talking on cellphones reversing on freeways because they've missed their exits.

    I'd like to be free to know that upon returning to Canada, the Canadian Customs agents will treat me as well as the friendly, chipper, informative, helpful and welcoming American Customs staff always do.

    I'd like to be free to live in a country where national unity is not a central issue to every political decision.

    I'd like to be free to live in a country where I can pay for health care that doesn't leave me sitting in an emergency room for three hours waiting for a Keflex prescription for strepped throat, while homeless heroin-addicts with needles broken off in their arms come in after me, sit beside me, play show-and-tell with their pus, and then get served before I do, despite the fact that I'm a tax payer and they're not.

    I'd like to be free to live in a land where what is played on TV and radio stations is based on market demands, not on CRTC 40% Canadian Content regulations, forcing broadcasters to play the same really lame Tragically Hip songs and poorly lit Canadian TV shows over and over again.

    Most of all, I'd like to be free to go outside without fearing for my life for 5 months of the year. I don't define quality of living by habitating in a place where you can die simply from going outside without a jacket on.

    I'd like to be free to live in a land where the politicians don't waste millions of dollars trying to figure out why all of Canada's best, brightest and most talented are moving to the United States, while the problems are so obvious and mostly rectifiable.

    And finally, I'd like to be free to post this comment without being moderated down by someone who simply disagrees with me; rather, I'd like to be moderated down if I've said anything untrue about Canada.

  • by boing boing (182014) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:46AM (#533959) Journal

    A trifle slow is not the experience that my friends in Canada have had with the postal serivce. They tell me that 3 to 5 weeks is about typical for the mail. Towns near the border of BC actually have huge numbers of PO boxes registered to Canadians.

    I don't know much personally about the health care system, but I have heard personal horror stories about both the health care and car insurance systems from residents and people just working in Canada.

  • by joss (1346) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:46AM (#533963) Homepage
    Governments intrude on your freedom in many ways, but the thing that really makes people slaves are their own internal attitudes. The greatest freedom you can have is freedom of thought, and it is the hardest to obtain. It's no use being able to say or hear whatever you like if you've been indoctrinated to only believe what you want to believe. People are rarely prevented from doing what they wish by anything other than their own internal constraints, their (possibly warped) sense of right and wrong, and most of all their unspoken fears (of discovery, punishment, what others will think etc etc).

    By all means go and live elsewhere, the main benefit will not be throwing off government constraints but exposing yourself to different viewpoints. If and when you return the experience will give you greater freedom than if you had stayed at home.

    As an example - US media is enormously one-sided. Not through any government or corporate mandated conspiracy but because of a strange vicious cycle. People are most likely to listen to what they want to hear - they generally don't want to hear stuff that portrays America as anything other than the best place on earth, and since they have been told that all their lives that America represents everything good they are rather suspect of something telling them otherwise, they're less likely to believe it.

    Now, every nation on earth is taught it's own version of history, the bits that reflect well on that country are emphasised, but this occurs to extraordinary extent in US.

    In order to obtain greater internal freedom, you would probably be well advised to move somewhere less free. The UK is becoming a police state more rapidly than US (thanks Jack Straw...) so I think it would be a good place for you to move - it has an interesting mix of less free and more free. For instance, it's perfectly legal to walk down the street drinking a bottle of whiskey, or even to drive a car while drinking whiskey (as long as you are under the limit). Also, the strangest example of lack of freedom I saw in the US was going to the beach at night was illegal ("The beach is closed" !! What the fuck ??). However, the real benefit of moving to England is that you will encounter an ignorant closed mindset in many people that can rival that found in many Americans, but is different and will thus be more striking - it should help you identify similar mental slavery in yourself and others. For greater benefits, move somewhere even less free and even more strange - Singapore might be good.
  • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:48AM (#533970)
    You can't have safety and freedom, even at the cost of QoL. The measures used to guarantee safety are, when overextended, what kill freedom. The relationship of these two to quality of life is something I'm not going to speculate on.
  • by grappler (14976) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:55AM (#534015) Homepage
    we seem to have several rogue moderators marking everything as 'funny'. Damn.

    When short on time, I look for funny ones, but this crop seems rather dry...
  • by rho (6063) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:57AM (#534028) Homepage Journal
    capitalism as we know it only works when you've got someone to look down on so you don't notice what the big guys are doing.

    Wow -- you need to put away the keyboard and mouse and go read Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations [amazon.com]

    Capitalism is about moving things from lesser value to higher value. For example, you're a wheat farmer, I'm a chicken farmer. I give you a chicken for a bundle of wheat. Chickens aren't as valuable to me as wheat is, since I've got a few hundred around. Wheat is growing into your bedroom window, you're glad to get rid of some of it. We've just increased each other's wealth, and nobody's worse off for it.

    Money is just an easier way of carrying around a sackful of chickens.

    If Adam Smith is too thick for you to read, try P.J. O'Rourke's Eat the Rich [amazon.com]

  • by crovira (10242) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:59AM (#534034) Homepage
    While I am an unrepentant Canadian, I have traveled on both sides of the pond, I've been through the US on more that one occasion and I've been in New York City since '95. That has provided me with some perspective.

    The major political systems here and abroad, are republican systems parliementary systems or monarchic. These are all more alike than not. (If you have to RUN for office or STAND for it or get knighted for it, its still the same. Its NOT democratic. Get that foolishness right out of your head.)

    But all the political systems want is to try to insure that you don't stray too far, pay your taxes and avoid hurting anybody. They want your loyalty and are willing to compromise to get it (armed revolution has taught them some lessons and some humility after all.)

    The real worry is corporate machination, unfettered by reason or treason and guided by the morals of people who dump waste where YOU eat, pour waste in YOUR water and have only an eye on the next quarterly earnings (or the outcome of the next great five year plan in the late and unlamented Soviet regime.)

    Corporations will justify anything for the bottom line. Corporations have absolutely no morals, no conscience and neither heart nor head.

    They don't care, they really DON'T CARE about how many people get killed, maimed and ruined by their corporate lack of conscience.

    Corporationism can readily weigh profits versus the volume of lawsuits resulting from injuries caused by the products of shoddy workmanship.

    Corporationism can readily sell crack to kids while forcing them to fuck for food and shove me and thee to wage-slave jobs in the "maquiadoras" by rationalizing that they are merely "filling a need."

    As someone I knew put it, "It doesn't matter whether your pimping pots and pans or pot and pussy, you're still a pimp."

    The internet is being dismantled by people who want to stop paying anything to produce any content but make you pay everytime you access the same old content, over and over, because its gravy, all gravy.

    The political borders are merely inconvenient fictionalities because of different taxation rules to evade.
  • by pezpunk (205653) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:13AM (#534077) Homepage
    For instance, if you want to own a gun, it's hard to beat the US.

    the right to murder, yes, very important to me.

    If you wish to practice Scientology, stay away from Germany.

    if you wish to practice Islam, Hinduism, Wicca, Atheism, or any other non-Christian religion, better stay away from the whole middle and southern US.

    I hear Canada has strange porn laws, you can probably find harder porn in the US (I'm talking dead tree porn here).

    of course you can't hear or see anything that might piss off the puritans on TV or radio in the US, even at 3 o'clock in the morning. and just try buying any music or video that's remotely controversial .. hope you live in a major metropolis which has more than the major chains, otherwise you're out of luck

    If you're a woman (I know, only about 5% of Slashdot) there are a lot of countries that are less enlightened about women's rights than the US.

    i guess, but i can't think of a country who sells more cultural sex than the US.

    If you will obviously stick out as a foreigner, there are other countries you may want to stay away from.

    yes but you are welcome to come here and pump our gas or clean our toilets.

    If you desire sexual freedom, stay away from highly religious countries,

    what like the US? virginia still has laws prohibiting oral sex, sex before marriage, and any kind of sex other than standard missionary position. hope you're not a homosexual, too, cuz for some dumb reason we like to herrangue them about their sexual promiscuity then prevent them from legally binding themselves to a single permanent partner. i just don't get why 85% of americans are against gay marriage.

  • by bhurt (1081) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:36AM (#534144) Homepage
    It's the only place safe from becoming a victim of American foriegn policy.

    Brian
  • by DoomHaven (70347) <DoomHaven AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:41AM (#534158)
    Being that I have lived in both Canada and the USA, I have a number of observations about the differences between the two in cultural, tax, and governmental attitudes.

    1) Americans are generally more individualitic; that is, they put more view on themselves as an individual than as a group of individuals. I am not saying that Americans are selfish or self-centered, it's just that the view events around them with a "how-does-this-effect-me?" attitude. Canadians, as a general rule, are more willing to take a more communal (sp?) approach to events; that is, with a "how-does-this-effect-*us*" mentality. Canadians are more willing to pay higher taxes, and have less personal rights, if it means a stronger country for *everyone*.

    2) Americans view government as, at best, a necessary evil. This country has founded on the principle of overthrowing the yoke of tyranny, and because of that, have skewed most of the original laws toward personal freedoms. The American federal government has very little true control over Americans; most of the laws obeyed by Americans are state and county laws, so the federal government cannot get too powerful. The problem, now, is because of 230-odd years of this has prevented most Americans from understanding that the federal government sometimes *needs* have that power, and when the federal government tries to acquire that power, the masses riot. Then, the government, worried about its power base, starts enacting tougher laws, which makes the already individualistic and government-distrusting people push back harder, which makes the government enact tougher laws, which...etc. Vicious circle. This circle will not be broken until American people understand that some powers are best left at a federal level, and until the American federal government understand which powers should be absorbed, and which should just left be.

    One note about this: Americans like weak government. During the second debate, Al Gore claimed to be part of a government that cut hundreds of thousands of government jobs to streamline the federal government. This was met with agreement; to Americans, this was a Good Thing. In Canada, had a politician claimed that, he would have dragged to the Arctic cirlce and left to die. The Canadian federal government is the single largest employer in Canada; and a lot of people count on the government for their jobs.

    Most Canadians trust their government, and for the most part, the Canadian government does little to abuse that trust. While, in written laws, Canadians have less official rights, they have more personal freedom.

    One word of advice I was given by Canadians who lived in the States: "Remember: be polite to police, as in 'Yes, sir, officer, sir. Thank you for pistol whipping me, sir.'" In Canada, if a peace officer pulled me over onto the side of a road, I would feel comfortable, and act naturally. In the States, I wouldn't.

    3) Taxes. Americans have less infrastructure, and as such, pay less taxes. Period. Don't let anyone tell you different, because they are wrong. Canadians pay about half of their income on taxes; they have higher income, alcohol, fuel, and sales taxes then Americans.

    4) Education. Measured by UN studies (which I have no links for), Canadians generally have a higher level of literacy and a better education from playschool to undergraduate studies than Americans. Americans have one of the world's best post-graduate ratings, however. As well, most Americans are geographically illiterate. Between their individualism and the fact they are a super power, Americans do not need to know much of the rest of their country (admittedly, 50 states is way too many) or of the world around them.

    5) Internationally, Americans are considered ignorant, rude, bossy, and vain. The quote "I love to travel abroad, except for all the foreigners there" is considered internationally as the summation of the average American tourist. Militarily, Americans are bullies, not heroes. Americans in Beirut are the prime example of how NOT to peace keep. And generally, America sticks its nose in international affairs when and only when America's interests are in jeopardy.

    Contrast with Canadians, who are considered internationally as polite and friendly; whose peace keepers are known as peace keepers, and who care about international affairs. The UN was created largely by the efforts of a Canadian.

  • by mirko (198274) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:43AM (#534164) Journal
    I only intended to give my advice on Switzerland as one of the numerous country where I have leaved. Now, about your exellent link [swissinfo.org]:
    • What ?
      The cantonal government said police reinforcements would be drafted in from all Swiss cantons and neighbouring Liechtenstein for "the biggest challenge" faced by Graubünden police since the force was founded in 1804.
    • To which exremity ?
      Local authorities said in a statement released on Wednesday that it would not be possible to seal off Davos.
      Instead, attempts will be made to speak to demonstrators who have threatened to launch protests during the five-day summit, which brings together leading political and business leaders from around the world.
    • Why ?
      The cantonal government has already rejected permission for a demonstration by anti-globalisation protestors during the summit.
    • Why (2) ?
      Unauthorised protests turned violent last year when President Clinton visited the summit. The demonstrators were, however, prevented from reaching the congress centre where the summit is held.
      The local authorities said the increased police presence was justified by the violent demonstrations during the summit last year, as well as disruption at other international economic meetings over the past year.
    • How much ?
      The federal government will pay 80 per cent of the policing costs.
    • Conclusion ?
      Sorry, this sound like a good way to protect Davos'inhabitants quietness. They even say who'll pay for this and why they prefer avoiding this as they don't want a similar anterior event to occur again.
      I say "Bravo!"
    About your famous quote, let's add the following:
    • Alexandre Julliard directs the Wine Project [winehq.com]
    • Velcro ("Hook-and-loop fastener", 1948, G. de Mestral)
    • High-temperature super-conductors (1986, J. Georg Bednorz - German and Karl A. Muller - Swiss )
    • Euler
    • Bernouilli
    • Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    • Paracelsus
    • Horace Benedict de Saussure
    • Le Corbusier
    • Henri Dunant, founder of the Red Cross
    • Carl Gustav Jung
    etc.
    --
  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms AT infamous DOT net> on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:52AM (#534175) Homepage
    And why does need to bear arms? Please explain this to me.

    Ask your armies and your police. The have guns, right? I am no less trustworthy, and my life not worth less than, a cop or a soldier; why should I not then avail myself of the same tools to defend myself, should that become necessary?

    Americans seem rather unique in the "civilised" world with regards to firearms. Nobody else believes that they're necessary.

    If you nations beleives that, then I suggest you urge your government to have its armed forces melt down all it firearms and start training with longbows instead.

    Do you really believe that this would ever be allowed to happen? Look at what happened when a small religious sect stock-piled some weapons in a place called Waco, TX.

    Yes, they managed to kill some of the thugs who illegally attacked them. (Sure, the Branch Davidians were wackos, but they had been peaceful wackos until state and federal paramilitary "law enforcement" went after them for no well-defined reason.) Of course they lost, but they gave serious pause to other thugs with badges.

    Americans are very preachy about democracy. If you truly believe in democracy, then use its processes rather than force to achieve your goals. Again: guns are unnecessary.

    Democracy is, at its base, nothing but a substitute for violent conflict. All other things being equal, the side with more combatants wins, right? So instead of killing each other, we'll agree to let the bigger side prevail this time, and all go home unbloodied. Much more civilized.

    But there's nothing to enforce that agreement other than the losing side knowing that it's smaller. If the smaller side gains an advantage - say, they have all the guns - there's nothing at all to keep them from breaking that agreement.

    Or, as some wag once put it: Democracy is defended by three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms | http://www.infamous.net/

  • by MoNsTeR (4403) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:53AM (#534178)
    Normally I never post unless there's only about 300 comments, but I'm breaking my rule due to this question striking SOOOOO close to home.

    I share your fears. I've been pondering the question of fleeing the tyranny of the United Socialist States of America for quite some time now. It's amazing any of us today know what real freedom IS considering we've barely had any since the New Deal gutted the soul of America. If the Founding Fathers rose from their graves, they might recognize the geography, but the nation would be alien.

    At any rate.

    Remember to lay blame where blame is due. A corporation cannot strip any of our freedoms without at least the implicit cooperation of government. Only governments have the legal power to use violence against peaceful people, and so any time you lose a right, you lose it to a gov't. And a little historical reflection will demonstrate this to be the rule, not the exception. The prime concern of Machiavelli's Prince was not the welfare of the people but the maintenance of his own power. Modern subjects are far less revolutionarily inclined that 16th century Italians, so our politicians can shift their goal from /keeping/ their power to /expanding/ their power (well, except at election time). PJ O'Rourke phrased it that a politician's income isn't money but power, and he will seek to increase his power income just as you or I would seek to increase our money income. And that any politician who claims he wants to reduce the size and scope of government is saying he's going to sneak up on himself and steal his own wallet. If the framework of a nation had no mechanism for corporations to lobby for favors, protection, etc, "corporate power" would be a non-issue. Why are patents causing problems? They are a government grant of priviledge, not based on a natural right (I oppose intellectual property in all forms, based on economic analysis). Remember when RAM prices shot through the roof for a while? Micron implored the FTC to impose a tariff on RAM imports because foreign vendors were supposedly "dumping" their wares in our market (which was of course bullshit). If the feds didn't have the power to levy tariffs, that couldn't have happened. "Tax breaks" for corporations and "the rich" (BTW, I'm not sure of the exact numbers, but I believe the top 5% income-wise pay over 75% of total income taxes in the US. The poor and middle class pay so relatively little taxes, that ANY significant tax cut will, *cough*, "benefit the rich") wouldn't seem so evil if we put in perspective how many times more we pay in taxes than the founding fathers ever reasonably expected.

    But that's not really the point.

    South American countries strike me as being good options. On the face of it, they try to be as socialist as every where else. But pragmatically, their governments are so weak and thinly spread, that if you find yourself a quiet corner of nowhere to live (Banos, Ecuador, a wonderful little hot springs town, comes to mind...) you can pretty much live how you like. However, it's hard to get good 'net access in these countries ;) Russia is somewhat similar this way. If you look at their laws, you could barely tell their not still communist. But everyone ignores the government. The majority of the Russian economy is conducted on the black market. The small nation of Monaco, if I'm informed correctly, has no taxes. But it's a tourist country, so everything is expensive, and you'd have to learn French :(. And in fact, that's my biggest trouble, is learning a new language. Believe it or not, the US is actually pretty well in front when it comes to freedom among English-dominant countries. The UK has high taxes, gov't control of many industries, and Nazi gun laws (which its former colonies, Australia and New Zealand, have copied). Canada is similar, in that it's only a little bit worse (what with worse gun laws, higher taxes, and socialized medicine). I was sorta thinking Switzerland. Lots of English speakers, a long tradition of firearms, and the world's greatest banking system.

    Of course, things in the US might get better before they get worse, if we say, elected a Libertarian president ;) But I think we can all agree that leaving the country is more practical than waiting for /that/ to happen...

    MoNsTeR
  • by Baldrson (78598) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:54AM (#534181) Homepage Journal
    The U.S. is a great place to be a female. It isn't such a great place to be a white heterosexual male.

    "The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons."
    Feodor Dostoevski, Russian novelist, 1821-1881

    By this standard, one might be better off in Russia, even with its huge incarceration rate and multi-drug resistant TB epidemic in its prisons, than in the US.

    Here's why:

    In 1994 there were 14,300 victims in the jails at any time and that 290,000 males were victimized in jail every year, 192,000 of them penetrated. Once "turned out," a victim is earmarked for constant further assaults. With a repeat rate very conservatively estimated at every other day, and counting gang-rapes as a single incident, this gives at least 7,150 sexual victimizations a day in jails. [spr.org]

    Nine per cent of the hetersexuals had been raped; 7.8% of them had been anally and 5.7% orally penetrated, but white heterosexuals were 2 to 3 times as likely to have been penetrated than black heterosexuals. [spr.org]

    In 1996, released prisoners made up 17% (39,000 cases) of the total number of US AIDS cases and 13.1% to 19.3% of all people with HIV infection (98,000 to 145,000). [intouchlive.com]

    Russia and the United States lead the world in their use of incarceration. Russia jails 690 people per 100,000 citizens, while the U.S. rate is 600 per 100,000. The U.S. rate is higher than at any previous time, and it is 6 to 10 times higher than the rate of Western European nations. [famm.org]

    The US incarceration rate has more than tripled since 1980. [usdoj.gov]

    A THIRD of the Russian prison population, about 350,000 inmates, will be released this year. [thetimes.co.uk]

    An estimated 4 million Americans are infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), with between 20 percent to 60 percent of the nation's 2 million prisoners infected. [aegis.com]

  • 5) Internationally, Americans are considered ignorant, rude, bossy, and vain.

    ...

    Contrast with Canadians, who are considered internationally as polite and friendly;


    There is no exaggeration here. I have many friends that have travelled to countries abroad (especially Europe) and the best advice they gave me is to keep a Canadian flag visible at all times. The amount of contempt for Americans in Europe is beyond belief in some countries.

    I guess being a "bully" doesn't pay off all of the time, "eh"?
  • by Special J (641) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @10:12AM (#534237) Homepage
    We don't have it that much better. Just like the US, our rights are dwindling away.

    Americans might be under attack from colossal corporations who have the politicians bought and paid for. But in Canada we get to be under attack from our own government, who, exept for one day every 3-5 years, gets to impose their socialist policies without any fear of opposition.

    In recent history we've had increasing measures that turn innocent people into criminals (Digital Media levies, the firearms registry). We have a government that wants to control every aspect of Canadians lives (national daycare, hostility to privately-run health care). Hell, they even control what we see or hear (CRTC, CBSC). And be careful if you voice your dissent, we've got us an election gag law that puts restricts private citizens' ability to run political ads.

    On top of all that, as one astute /.'er pointed our Constitution doesn't even give us the right to own property!

    I love my country, and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. But the way things are headed has me concerned.
  • by TheSync (5291) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @10:19AM (#534251) Journal
    Check out Cato's commentary on campaign finance reform in Canada. [cato.org] Its findings:

    • Canadian campaign finance reform has lead to the lowest voter turnout ever
    • The last Canadian election was most negative and disingenuous in memory because candidates don't have enough money to get out more expensive and polished positive messages.
    • Canadian campaign finance reform has become an "incumbent protection system" since challengers can't mount effective challenges to the free publicity that comes from being in office.

    In the US, we've had all kinds of stupid campaign finance laws passed since the Nixon administration, and things have only gotten worse here. It doesn't work, nor is there any evidence in the world that it works.
  • by OlympicSponsor (236309) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @10:25AM (#534265)
    I never said there were no good sides to sharing. OBVIOUSLY sharing is good. What I actually said was that "forced sharing...is the antithesis of freedom".

    Note the adjective "forced" a property which, in itself, provides none of the benefits you list. Also note that the forced aspect is antithetical to FREEDOM. It may very well be GOOD, but it's not FREE.
    --
    MailOne [openone.com]
  • by Tumbleweed (3706) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @10:26AM (#534266)
    >It's FAR from perfect, but we don't have military coups even when
    >our election process is completely hosed.

    Variations of this was heard again and again during the recent election fiasco. I seems many Americans actually believe that their country is the only one in the world who would not have a coup, riots in the streets, etc in such a situation.


    How clueless!


    Nowhere in my message did I say that the US is the only country where that doesn't happen. How clueless of you to assume that I meant something I didn't even say.

    And as for Americans in general, it seems to be in fashion to bash us all for something only a vocal few are guilty of. The rest of you are no saints, either, I'm betting, so you can all get off your high horses, too.

  • by vorpal22 (114901) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @10:31AM (#534278) Homepage Journal
    You're speaking from an American point of view; for some reason, many Americans cannot understand _why_ Canadians want to pay tax for a healthcare program that helps people like heroin addicts and homeless people.

    Personally, I don't think people move out onto the streets and become addicted to heroin because it's fun, or because there's nothing better to do. Usually, these people have more serious problems than a mere heroin addiction.

    I'd like to think that if I was having such serious problems that I turned to hard drugs to alleviate the psychological pain of what was going on that someone would be available to help me break free when I was ready to do so.

    People make mistakes; life is about learning. I will make mistakes in my lifetime, and I'd appreciate it if people were there to help me. I'd like to be able to do the same for others. A heroin addict is not a depraved lunatic; s/he is merely a person that has made some wrong choices, and needs help.

    You might prefer to have your fancy cars, but I'm quite content aiming away at something so commercially shallow and helping my fellow man, thank you very much.

    By the way, I don't know which health care clinics that you're going to, but I've never been to one where a heroin addict with a syringe hanging out of his arm starts showing me his pus.

    v
  • by beagle (99378) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @11:07AM (#534337)
    Money, money, money. Is that the limit of your vision? Is that the only thing you care about, the only thing that matters in life?

    Why is sharing such a difficult concept for some people to understand?

    For me, money has very little to do with it, fellow Slashdotter. It's about control - the ability to decide for myself how, where, and if I will spend my money.

    See, there is a basic decision one must make. That decision entails who (or what) will control one's destiny. There are only two choices. Either a person will control her own destiny, or she will rely on the government. I choose self. I think I can do a better job of deciding my future than any government will ever be able to do.

    As for sharing and helping others in need, I'm all for that. Just don't use my tax dollars to do it! Let me go and give of my own generosity. Don't force me to do it through taxation!

    As for your lower-class background, I can relate. While in college, I used to skip meals because I had no money for food. As I said, I worked very hard to get where I am today. I never asked the government for one damn handout. I never wanted a handout. While my parents were gracious enough to give me some money for college, it was far from enough. I had to work my entire way through school to afford my education.

    I wanted to -- and did -- do it on my own. OK, with some parental assistance, but sans governmental help (excepting college loans, that is).

    One last comment. If the school systems up there in Canada are good, consider yourself blest in that respect. The primary school system (i.e. high school and below) really sucked when I was in school, and is even worse today. I'll be doing my best to be able to afford a private school for my kids, Lord willing I should have any.

  • by SubtleNuance (184325) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @11:22AM (#534355) Journal
    safety Sorry No. [who.int] Go down and have a look at the 'murder' columns, shows a value of deaths per 100k. US ends up w/ double digits with countries like the USSR, Latvia & Brazil - Drastically higher than sub 2 values of star performers like Canada, Belgium, Greece and Japan..

    freedom Sorry No. Have a look at the Corruption Index (Scroll to Table 1) [uci.edu], American Imperialism [wayne.edu] (and here [thinkquest.org]), McArthyism [utexas.edu].. I wont bother with the links: DMCA, Marijuana Prohibition, Prostitution, Collusive Monopolies (RIAA/MPAA), The Cuban Embargo, Kent State Massacre, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bay of Pigs, Iran-Contra Affair, Watergate, Assassinations of John/Bobby Kennedy & MLK, Invasion of Granada [historyguy.com], The War on Drugs, Internet Censorship in Schools/Libraries, Consumerism, Work holism, Invasion of Dominican Republic [progressive.org], Gulf War, Systemic Racism (weak gay rights)... etc etc

    quality of life Sorry No. [canoe.ca] Canada has the highest Standard of Living on the planet - 7 years running...

    I went to Chicago for NewYears eve to visit some friends. On the way home we heard a news reporter 'lead out of a story' by saying "...and after all; we are the richest and most powerful people in the world." What I began to think is that Americans have begun to treat their 'democracy' (*ahem*) like a Religion. There is no debate. They have enjoyed a very good 150 years - and like all successful civilizations; it will eventually end. If America didnt have such a large piece of 'virgin' North America to exploit for natural resources, and did host a World War (or two) Im betting the world would be a very different place. The 'success' of America dosnt prove the 'rightness' of Capitalism - so get that out of your head. America's 'success' is not success at all! (See adbusters.org [adbusters.org] about consumerism and mindlessness). America would do itself a favour and learn a little collective humility. Surely the last election has taught you something...

    The system has been horribly corrupt by politicians and business people 'on the take'. Their is no longer anyone in Washington who intends to lead Americans. To help America lead and become better global citizens - and try their best to help set a good example - and take examples from those who are already doing good. No person on this planet should be without the rights described in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [justice.gc.ca] or the US Constitution (or similar documents written or yet-to-be written). Like it or not this is a Global Village and we should be working together for the good of us all.

    I refuse to become cynical and jadded. People will respond that this is 'The Real World' - to that I suggest people decide what we are choosing to make this 'Real World' become? Like it or not our collective action/inaction everyday sets the course for the future. We need to stop the 'present' America from setting the course that it is now (and using arms/propaganda to force others into capitulating). (I wont bother with the globalization/imperialist/enslavement/end-of-the-p lanet scenario that is our current future).

    Please American PEOPLE do something about your government.

  • by beagle (99378) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @11:40AM (#534385)
    Why, pray tell us, is it meaningful, or important for electoral purposes to win over a large mass of unpopulated land?

    Don't put words into my mouth. What I said was, If we indeed had mob rule ("true democracy"), all a candidate would have to do to win would be to court voters in the top 5 or 8 states.

    The only part land mass has to do with it relates to, as another commenter pointed out, population density. I was simply trying to point out that if we indeed had a directly elected president, the president could win the popular vote by courting a handful of states -- ignoring the vast majority of the country.

    The point is that if we directly elected our presidents, only those voters in very densly populated areas would matter to the candidates. The Electoral College spreads that out somewhat. Not much obviously (and Mr. Gore should have taken this lesson from history) because it has only happened a few times (4 now I believe) that the candidate who lost the popular vote won the Electoral College. The lesson Mr. Gore should have learned was that in every previous time this has happened, the winner of the popular vote was the president four years later. I doubt Mr. Gore has that chance now.

    I apologise for not being clearer on my point.

  • by small_dick (127697) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @12:32PM (#534463)
    I've struggled with dystopia (the core belief that things will get worse rather than better) and it is quite painful.

    the recent laws protecting monopolies, IP, and copyrights have basically stripped us of the hard fought "fair use" clauses we had -- not good.

    now add corporate welfare (american corporations are VERY well taken care of by law), a country that worships greed, power money and sex...

    well, it's ugly. my personal belief is that things should get better for all people over time. But the current crop of laws, and the large corporations who serve greed and shareholder over customer...its just a bummer.

    10-15 years ago I was positive cancer would be gone by 2000, that fusion energy would be up and running, homelessness and the stigmata of mental illness would be largely gone...but two aquantainces killed themselves before xmas...such a waste.

    but what do we have? a fairly strong economy, yet an incoming president with little care for humanitarian, ethical or social concerns, a supreme court hanging on the edge of radical conservatism, a nation nearly evenly divided between liberal and conservatism.

    I still hope for the emergence of a humanitarian/social ethos somewhere on the planet, at some point in my lifetime (which will work its way to world utopia) but the last two years, as well as the election, have dampened my hopes.

    The greed, anger, ignorance, hate and indifference of the average american (particularly males) continues to horrify me. sigh.

  • by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @12:33PM (#534466) Homepage Journal
    If the US were no longer the "best" country, or "number 1", how long would it take us to notice?

    On the evidence here I think it will take you a very long time - nearly as long as it's taken the English, in fact.

    Seriously, if you want quality of life, freedom, and safety, try Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark or Switzerland. Iceland is also great but it's a little too cold. Any of them easily beat the US on all the measures you've given.

  • Like I said in my above post, most of the people I know went to Europe and came back with stories of dislike for Americans. For example, some bars in Spain refuse to admit Americans because "they cause too much trouble".

    Not to knock the friendliness of the Indian people while you were there, but don't you think it had something to do with the fact that you were in the Army? You wouldn't want to piss off people who were protecting you, in wartime (with another country) or otherwise.

    So, I don't know where you get your facts, or if you've ever been out of the country or met anyone from Europe or elsewhere to derive your opinion ...

    I have been to the US and Barbados so far in my lifetime and neither place had an opinion of the attitudes of Americans.

    I get my facts from my FRIENDS and RELATIVES. You know, people that I know IRL, not on IRC. These are people I trust and they have no reason to make up some bullshit stories about Europeans disliking Americans. So when they told me that piece of advice, I thought it would be interesting to share it with /. since it was relevant to back up the statement of the parent post.

    Canadians in general laugh about the International attitude toward Americans (since it effects us very little), but we also think that it is pretty sad that such a close neighbor could have such a bad reputation, given we have so much else in common.

  • by l-ascorbic (200822) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @12:47PM (#534486)
    This is a bit of a misrepresentation. Take a look at a comparison of gun crime in our two countries. Yes, we do have problems with guns in the UK, in common with virtually every country in the world, but it is on a scale that is incomparably small next to US figures. This would seem to be largely due to cultural differences. A US citizen is likely to be a supporter of the second amendment, a believer in the use of guns to protect the person, and in hunting for sport. Contrary to some stereotypes, hunting is very much a minority persuit in the UK, as is target shooting, and under British law, there is NO OTHER legitimate reason to own a gun. Hence: no reason for handguns, which are only designed for killing people. Self-defense is no defense when it comes to guns. Defend yourself with a gun, and even if you dont fire it you will be in prison for a long time. Fire it, and you will probably be dead. Where firearms are suspected, British police will call the local Armed Response Vehicle. These are units with highly trained police officers that patrol nationwide, armed mainly with semi-automatic weapons. You might have seen them partolling UK airports. They always shoot to kill, aiming for the torso. It doesn't happen often, as gun crime is relatively low, but occasionally people are shot by them.
  • by ReadParse (38517) <.moc.wocynnuf. .ta. .nhoj.> on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @03:55PM (#534653) Homepage
    The story reads, in part:
    It seems like corporations have no desire other than to strip us of what few remaining freedoms we have, and the government is doing nothing to check their power scramble

    Actually, corporations are unable to strip anyone of freedoms. It's those in favor of big government who wish to strip you of your freedoms (and who have the power to do so), and it's the American people who are doing nothing to check the power scramble. Not all citizens, of course, but a good number of them.

    <PLUG TYPE="SHAMELESS">
    The Libertarian Party [lp.org] has more information about protecting your liberty.
    </PLUG>

  • by MemRaven (39601) <kirk@kirk w y lie.com> on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @04:10PM (#534662)
    True enough. But since most constitutional interpretation has very little to do with the "letter of the law," that makes more sense with respect to legal code than constitutional law.

    For example, the first amendment gives you the right to "freedom of speech." Does that mean you can draw a picture? Depends on your definition of "speech." The bill of rights is intentionally VERY vague to allow for a lot of interpretation as times change.

    A situation even worse is the Civil or Napoleonic Code (tangent: the only part of America with a formal Civic Law situation is Louisiana), where the letter of the law is that ONLY thing that matters. If the law says you may "speak freely," then it means "speak," not "use free expression of any kind."

    If we could have "letter of the law" arguments in constitutional law, we wouldn't need a Supreme Court to interpret what the constitution actually SAYS. It would be black and white. The fact that it ISN'T is what makes it so great.

  • I know this is probably troll bait, but the US was never really the best place to go if you wanted to be free. We pay a lot of lip service to personal freedoms, but have never really practiced what we preach. We held on to slavery long after most countries had abolished it. We had Jim Crow (and still do, in practice) until the 1960s. We still have a small propertied class that controls more than 90% of the wealth in the country. Yet Americans refuse to think in terms of class distinctions. We've been fed that bulls&*t line about America being a classless society for so long that we believe it.

    Maybe I'm just bitter, but when the Supreme Court gets to select a president, it does a lot to disenchant you. Hell, if we really believed in freedom and democracy, we would have direct election of our presidents, and probably wouldn't have a drug war...

  • by Malc (1751) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @06:16PM (#534721)
    "
    Where I come from the police don't carry guns. There are few armed officers who specially dispatched to deal with armed threats.


    The second part of your sentance contradicts the first. Either there are police with guns, or there aren't. "

    Don't split hairs. Please let me clarify: the normal police don't carry guns. You won't see armed police on the streets. The only police I've seen with guns are on the television (patrolling Heathrow airport during a time of high national alert), or one occasion when the local bobby decided he couldn't handle some of my drunken friends (the nearest support came from the Prime Minister's residence and they were armed with sub-machineguns - they stood there and didn't get involved whilst another friend of mine pretended to be a commando pretending to shoot them). That's my experience of police with guns over my whole lifetime within the country.

    So in general, the police don't carry guns.

    "Remember than the same could have been said of pre-Nazi Germany, before Hitler came to power (though purely democratic means). What guarantee do you have that the army's going to stay overseas, that in fifty years your government won't have them roaming the streets rounding up "undesirables"? "

    I have no fear that the army will ever be used against the people. If perhaps the people armed themselves and tried to rise up it might happen - but then those people would be trying to bypass normal democratic processes. In general, the government doesn't stay in power when the people don't like them. It's called democracy.

    "I suppose I could be brought up as an accessory to manslaughter if a student of mine killed an attacker intent on killing him or her? "

    If the legal system were screwed up. That's the sort of thing we expect to hear from the American courts though (we often do).

    "Restricting guns to government employees creates an unstable situation; only when firearms are available to all can a peaceful society be maintained over the long term. If are feeling superior because your nation "gets by" without private ownership of firearms, you might consider the age of democracy in your nation compared to in the USA. (Where it is, to be sure, now endangered, but it's not quite dead yet.)"

    Please... Britain was a democracy before the US. The evolution over hundreds of years from feudal through monarchy to a modern parliamentary democracy has lead to stability without the need for weapons. Don't forget, the basis of much of the American constitution is based on the ideals started at the time of King John (IIRC) and the Magna Carta.

    Do you realise how antipodean your statement sounds: you only maintain a peaceful society with firearms?! That doesn't sound peaceful, that sounds repressive. Intimidation is no grounds for for peace.

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